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Le Pen backers can’t stay anonymous

PARIS - French far-right leader Marine Le Pen lost a legal battle yesterday in her bid to run for president, with a court ruling that her backers’ names must be made public.

The decision upholds current electoral law and puts added pressure on Le Pen and her anti-immigrant party two months ahead of presidential elections. It is an indirect victory for President Nicolas Sarkozy, a conservative who is trying to sap Le Pen’s support with nationalist rhetoric in his struggle for a second term.

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Current rules say that anyone wishing to run for president must submit signatures of 500 mayors or local officials supporting the candidacy. The signatures are then made public.

Le Pen enjoys solid support in opinion polls but says she has had a hard time obtaining signatures of the public officials. Le Pen’s National Front party says mayors worry that their careers could be hurt if they support the Front’s candidates because of its extreme views. The party argues the rule is unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court took up the matter, but ruled yesterday that the public signatures are constitutional.

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